Carnegie Mellon University

Planning Your StuCo Course

StuCo Courses are fun to teach, but designing and planning one can be a lot of work. The goal of this page is to provide prospective teachers with guidance and necessary knowledge on how to design and plan a course.

The Eberly Center offers an official tutorial to CMU professors on designing, teaching, and writing syllabi for CMU courses. These are comprehensive material that you should explore before you read the rest of this page. This page will focus on how planning StuCo course can differ from planning normal courses at the university.

Outline the Goal

As a course, the central learning objective should be set and clear. You should have a clear objective in mind about what you want your students to learn. You should also have a way of assessing your students. If you assess your students after they graduate from your course, in what ways do you want them to perform differently than if they didn’t take your course? Once you have these goals set, outline the collection of material that you will teach your students that will directly contribute to your desired changes. Divide your material up to different units (possibly by week), and implement each unit with a clear set sub-goal in mind. Only after you make all planning should you start to write the syllabus. Sample syllabi can be found on Eberly Center’s website, and we provide a template for download here. Your syllabus need not be as comprehensive as those from other CMU courses, but at least it should explain to students what your goal is at teaching them, and the steps you are going to take to make them achieve your goal. That is, the syllabus should at least contain a description of the overarching theme of the course, and a timetable or a breakdown of the course into each module. All instructors must either use this template or ensure that every section of the temple is present in their own syllabus.

Know Your Audience

The next step is to plan out what in-class interactions would look like. Because you are also a student at CMU, just like the students, this allows for more creativity and approachability in the classroom. For example, consider flipping the classroom. You could make handouts/powerpoint slides and lecture to the class as all teachers do, but based on your course content, consider having students learn the material in more creative and interactive ways, such as playing a game specifically designed to fulfill the learning outcome, or have a discussion-based forum where students know each other and can freely express their thoughts. If your course is about Board games, for example, consider have students learn by playing. Depending on the topic of your course and knowledge of the student body, you could organize your classroom in various ways.

Engage Your Students

Topics taught at StuCo courses are usually more casual and more tailored to the students’ individual interests. As such, it is easier to engage your students. When you really need your students to learn a certain material or concept, consider whether a simple Youtube search could yield a video that could make the learning process more engaging than reading or lecturing. Make the classroom interactive. Rather than having the teacher talk all the time, try to ask students questions or have them do regular quizzes. If your class has a creative component to it, consider have students critique each other’s work, or make them proud by giving them an opportunity of presenting their work in or after class.

Assess Your Class

As per StuCo policy, your course has to include a Midterm and a Final. You could have both of them be traditional test papers, but if your course is more creative on the students’ part, you could have them do a presentation or a term project. It could also be a cumulative project that starts from the first day of classes. If you have students write term essays, you could have them peer review each other’s work.

Other Resources

Request a Canvas course

Create a Piazza class

The Eberly Center

And of course, if you have any additional questions or need advice, you are welcome to email us, the StuCo Executive Comittee, at